Fighter Series: Who is Michael LeMond?
Michael LeMond is a lawyer and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who has battled through a number of very tough health conditions.
After attending a health check, Michael discovered a lump on one of his testicles. He had emergency surgery on Thanksgiving day in 2016, which removed the cancer and one testicle. During his operation, the medical team completed a test on his prostate and discovered that Michael had prostate cancer.
For his prostate cancer treatment, Michael chose to undergo Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) for 5 days per week, for 8 weeks. Right after, he received IMRT for an extra 4 weeks, 5 days per week, to treat his testicular cancer. The radiation therapy was successful in treating his testicular cancer, but it was not as effective for his prostate cancer. Since the radiation treatment failed, Michael could not undergo surgery. Unfortunately, this means that the spread of cancer cannot be stopped. He and his doctors are only able to actively monitor the cancer and treat it as it spreads.
Cancer is not the only health issue Michael continuously deals with. After examining his body scans for cancer, doctors diagnosed Michael with Degenerative Disk Disease. This disease causes damage to his body, as well as the vital systems that are needed to function, which all lead to immense feelings of pain. He deals with many other conditions like uncontrolled vomiting if he eats anything spicy or larger than a pint, multiple hernias in his stomach, and a torn hip labrum.
Michael has also pushed through his fair share of surgeries. He has had multiple shoulder surgeries (one labral repair, three re-attachments of his rotator cuff), throat surgeries (two attempts to widen his throat, both of which have been unsuccessful), and five knee surgeries. After these operations, he said that he will be avoiding any and all surgeries for the future and will deal with the pain in his untreated injuries for as long as he can.
In Michael’s own words, “Every single day is pain. Vast amount of pain from swelling of the body, which pinches the nerves going through the narrowed bone canals. This pinches nerves that make me feel one day like a sledgehammer was taken to my elbows, and another day to my neck, another to my shoulders, shooting pain down my arms and legs, complete loss of feeling of my pinky and wedding fingers on both hands… My body’s impossible fight against the cancer is what makes each day so hard as my body pulls from every resource to fight.”
Despite everything Michael has faced and continues to face on a daily basis, he is grateful. He states that he is not a victim and sees himself as extremely fortunate to have the career and team that he has built. As an attorney, Michael refuses to take anything he believes may hinder his ability to give his full effort at work, until after he finishes for the day. Even after work hours, he takes medication in the most minimal amount possible, as he remains cognizant of the effects that addiction has on people.
Michael’s health situation has helped him realize that since his days are numbered, he needs to make the most out of each and every day he has. He says, “This doesn’t mean everyday is a party, it means that every dollar I spend and action I take is done with intention of improving some aspect of the people in my life. It has also galvanized my spirit, I refuse to give up today. Today I will be in charge of my life, my pain, my world. I will be kind to others and I will not let my pain or my fears steal any of my todays. If I am going to be in pain, I am going to use it like a laser and cut through any obstacles in my path.”
In early 2017, Michael began his Jiu Jitsu training. Armed with a wrestling background, he wanted to prove that he still had some moves on the mat and could hit them while his body still worked. In his first class, he says a 15 year old beat him up for an hour… and he was hooked from there.
Michael believes that Jiu Jitsu is extremely important in helping him to manage his health conditions. He says that when you’re training, you can’t focus on anything else other than training. If you allow your mind to think about your problems outside of the gym, you will likely lose the battle you are fighting at the moment. Your fight or flight response takes over, simplifies the situation for you, and helps prevent distractions from interrupting your thoughts and actions.
Due to the intense focus BJJ requires, Michael trains as much as his body will physically allow him to. When he feels worse and worse, he feels a bigger need to go to the gym and train. “[W]hen I am on the mats, I’m not sick, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a man burdened with 100 things in life… I’m just Michael and for this hour or two, I am free. The pain I feel goes away in a match. Sure, when I am done, it really really hurts, but getting a break from my pain and my successes and failures for a whole hour?!?!!? I’m like a man in a desert, who gets swept away for an hour or two and given the soul food and drink to carry on one more day.”
From his experiences fighting against adversity, Michael’s advice for everyone is simple: don’t stop. Don’t stop learning and don’t stop training. If you quit, there will always be questions lingering in the back of your mind. What if you kept training? How would your life be different if you hadn’t quit? How much better off would you be if you never gave up? He says that not stopping and always being willing to learn new things directly translates to discipline. This type of training mindset can help anyone and everyone to learn how to deal with difficult situations and work their way through them.
Currently, Michael continues his duties as a lawyer and his training as a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, under Gabe Hernandez. He is preparing for Master Worlds, which takes place later this year, and is looking to add to his already incredibly impressive accomplishments (listed at the end of this article). Dealing with the health problems that he has, Michael LeMond is a true inspiration. Powering through immense pain every single day, he manages a successful career helping people in court as a defense attorney and on the mats as an experienced grappling practitioner.
Michael LeMond - Accomplishments:
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, under Gabe Hernandez
6 time Regional IBJJF Champion
2x World Master Champion
2x South American Master Champion
2x American National Masters Champion
2x North American Masters Champion
Pan American Masters Champion
16 time IBJJF Medalist
33 time BJJ Medalist
Michael LeMond - Defense Attorney
Base BJJ Lubbock (Michael’s Gym)